American Born Chinese Summary
A Brief Message from Team Shmoop
Even though this book is mainly about Jin, the book actually starts with the story of the Monkey King. The book then switches to Jin's story in the second chapter and, for the third chapter, switches to the story of Danny (Jin's alter-ego). Only after Jin's and Danny's stories do we return to the Monkey King, only to start the same pattern all over again, and repeat it two more times.
For the sake of your sanity (and ours), we'll just give you the general gist of each story, one at a time. If you want every twist and turn of the book, go to the "Detailed Chapter-by-Chapter Plot Summary" and have at it.
The Monkey King's Story
Okay, so back to the Monkey King. When we first meet him, he's already been the ruler of his kingdom for a long time. He knows his kung-fu and has mastered all the prereqs he needs to become immortal. But the Monkey King wants more. He wants to become a god and hang out with all the other gods and goddesses, only they don't want him because he is, after all, a monkey. So at a party that he's crashed he starts a fight with one of the gods.
This leads to his banishment from the heavens and to some serious vigilante justice on his part: he goes around beating up all these gods, goddesses, demons and spirits in order to convince them that he's more than just a monkey.
Then he comes across Tze-Yo-Tzuh. Or actually, Tze-Yo-Tzuh seeks him out because everyone's gone and complained to Tze-Yo-Tzuh about the Monkey King. Who is Tze-Yo-Tzuh? Only the creator of all beings and things on Earth, including, of course, the Monkey King.
So Tze-Yo-Tzuh checks the Monkey King. He tries to convince the Monkey King to stop his rampage and just be who he's supposed to be—a monkey—but the Monkey King's not down with that and tries to show how powerful he is. Tze-Yo-Tzuh, unimpressed, buries the Monkey King under a pile of rocks, where the Monkey Kings stays for five hundred years.
Cut to this monk called Wong Lai-Tsao. He's this simple dude: nothing special, just a really nice guy who's into serving others. He's also a faithful follower of Tze-Yo-Tzuh. Tze-Yo-Tzuh chooses Wong Lai-Tsao for a mission, the first step of which is to collect three disciples for his journey. His first disciple is—you guessed it—the Monkey King, who's still trapped under those rocks.
So Wong Lai-Tsao goes to the Monkey King and asks him to free himself from the rocks (Wong Lai-Tsao can't do it since he's just a skinny monk with weak arms) so that he can serve as Wong Lai-Tsao's disciple on the mission. The Monkey King's not having it because he's supposed to be a great sage/deity/ruler: whoever heard of a deity becoming a disciple? But since Wong Lai-Tsao is the Monkey King's last chance at freedom, eventually the Monkey King comes around, breaks free of the rocks, and saves Wong Lai-Tsao from some demons who've been harassing Wong Lai-Tsao during their meeting.
From then on, the Monkey King serves as Wong Lai-Tsao's disciple until the end.
Jin starts out his story by telling us how he got to the town he lives in. The gist? His parents, both immigrants, journeyed to America for a better life (his dad became an engineer; his mom, a librarian) and, once they had Jin, decided to move from place to place until they could find him a place where he could become all that he can be. In other words, they moved to a place with a good school system—a.k.a the suburbs.
Jin's life up until this point was pretty fun, and full of Chinese American kids just like him (they lived in San Francisco Chinatown at first), but in his new town he can't find anyone like him. Kids are mean, and they bully him and call him names. There is this other Asian student, a Japanese American named Suzy Nakamura, but they stay away from each other because the other kids tease them for being part of an arranged marriage.
Anyway, things get a little better once a new Taiwanese kid arrives in town. His name's Wei-Chen Sun, and he looks like a total FOB ("fresh off the boat"). You wouldn't think Jin would want to be friends with Wei-Chen, and he doesn't, but they become friends anyway because Wei-Chen's a really nice guy who has cool toys, like a robot that can change into a robot monkey (think: Taiwanese Transformer).
This is all part of his elementary school years, and by the middle of the book things speed up to Jin's life at a new, mostly white, junior high school. Like a lot of boys, Jin has a thing for that unattainable girl—in his case, it's Amelia Harris, a popular, white girl whom he's liked since 7th grade.
He tells Wei-Chen about his crush and Wei-Chen finagles things so that—eventually—he helps get Jin and Amelia together. They go out on a date after Wei-Chen covers for Jin (something Wei-Chen's not comfortable doing because he has to lie to Jin's parents). The date goes well and Jin's on cloud nine until this popular white guy with curly blonde hair more or less tells Jin to leave Amelia alone. Which Jin does, much to his own shame.
So Jin does something that's way off base: he tries to kiss Suzy Nakamura. What's the big deal? Suzy happens to be Wei-Chen's girlfriend. As expected, Wei-Chen fights with Jin and stops being friends with him.
Totally bummed out, Jin dreams of this old lady herbalist from his Chinatown days. She asks him who he would like to become and—dun dun dun—he wakes up, looks in the mirror, and sees that he's now blonde and white. He gives himself a new name: Danny.
Danny and Chin-Kee's Story
Okay—this is the weird story, but it's super-important because it ties all three stories together at the end.
When we first encounter Danny, he's this blonde, white teenager at the same high school as Jin. (We don't know yet that he's actually Jin.) His life is looking up. He's got this thing going with this blonde girl (who looks a lot like Amelia but isn't), and the jocks are starting to pay attention to him in a good way. It looks like he's someone who's just about to fit in with the popular crowd at school.
But he also happens to have a cousin named Chin-Kee, who's Chinese. And not just Chinese—he's an amped-up version of Fu Manchu with a queue. Chin-Kee is embarrassing. He's loud and spouts a bunch of crazy stuff that turns him into every imaginable, ridiculous stereotype of a Chinese guy; he also goes with Danny to school when he's visiting Danny's family.
Chin-Kee basically ruins Danny's life (in Danny's eyes). He shouts all the right answers in class, he comes on to Danny's girlfriend, he pees in one of the jock's can of Coke—a jock who tries to befriend Danny. Chin-Kee more or less makes Danny's social life at Oliphant High hellish.
Frustrated and angry, Danny fights with Chin-Kee, only to find out that Chin-Kee is like a master of kung-fu. In fact, Chin-Kee is more than a master of kung-fu: he's the Monkey King. Yep—that's what happens to the Monkey King. We find out that he comes annually to visit Danny/Jin as Chin-Kee, but not to keep tabs on Chin-Kee—nope, he's keeping tabs on Wei-Chen, who's actually his son, sent to Earth as a "test of virtue"—to live with humans and still be free of vice.
This doesn't happen, though, and Wei-Chen totally rebels against his father and rejects the teachings of Tze-Yo-Tzuh. So the Monkey King, once he's been revealed to Danny, asks Danny to return to his true form—Jin—in order to go and bring Wei-Chen back from the deep end. (By this time, Wei-Chen's transformed into a Chinese gangsta.)
Jin does just that: He waits for Wei-Chen at a boba tea shop everyday for a month until he sees Wei-Chen one day and convinces him to sit down and talk things out. They do and their bromance returns.
The Monkey King
- The book opens with a super-swank dinner party. Who's on the A-list? You've got all the heavy-hitters in Chinese mythology: gods, goddesses, demons, spirits. If they're big and powerful, they're there.
- The Monkey King, who's down below on his mountaintop, hears the music and the scent of wine drifting down from the party up above. Never one to say no to a good party, he speeds off to the heavens to attend the party, which he assumes he's been invited to.
- By the way, just so you know, the Monkey King is this amazing ruler of the monkey world. He's mastered kung-fu in addition to a bunch of other things, including the "four major heavenly disciplines": "fist-like-lightning," "thunderous foot," "heavenly senses," and "cloud-as-steed"—all of which means that's he's basically immortal.
- The Monkey King thinks he's some seriously hot stuff, and definitely guest material for that dinner party he's crashing. He tells that to this bouncer/guard, but the bouncer/guard isn't having it since the Monkey King doesn't have an actual invitation.
- Plus the Monkey King doesn't have any shoes on. No way can he get in without shoes.
- Even though the Monkey King tries to convince the bouncer/guard that he should still get in, everyone just laughs at him because he's just a monkey.
- That really angers the Monkey King, so the Monkey King takes the bouncer/guard by his ponytail (yep, the bouncer's stylin') and bashes him all over the place, thereby causing extreme chaos at the party.
- After he's shown everyone what's what, he returns to his home on Flower-Fruit Mountain sulky and mad.
- He also—for the first time—notices his own, thick monkey B.O. He stays up all night trying to figure out how he can get rid of the smell.
- Mothers—they've always got something to say, right? That's Jin's mom too.
- Jin starts his story off with a story his mother tells him. Here's how that story goes (and, by the way, Yang wants you to know that Jin's mom's story is translated from Mandarin Chinese):
- There was once a (Chinese) mother and her son. Because they lived near the marketplace, the son liked to pretend he was a merchant, haggling over prices.
- The mom didn't like that, so they moved to a house near a cemetery. If you're thinking "bad move," you're right because the boy would play by burning incense and praying to his ancestors.
- So they moved again, this time to a house across the street from a university. They stayed because—you guessed it—the son "played" by spending all his time studying.
- Jin's mom tells him this story while they're moving to their new house in the suburbs.
- Cue backstory. Jin tells us how his parents met. They both arrived in America at the same airport one week apart, but they never actually met each other until a year and a half later, in the library at San Francisco State University, as grad students.
- Anyway, you know how this story ends: both become respectable professionals (his dad, an engineer; his mom, a librarian), marry, and move to San Francisco Chinatown, where they live for nine years.
- Jin's got a bunch of friends just like him: Chinese, with a thing for Saturday morning cartoons and robot toys.
- There's also this old Chinese lady who's an herbalist. She asks him what he wants to be when he grows up and he says a Transformer, which totally just puzzles the old lady since she has no clue what a Transformer is.
- But that doesn't matter. Jin matters and she tells him that he can be whatever he wants… as long as he's willing to give up his soul. Yep—this little old lady ain't exactly sweet.
- Flash-forward to Jin's first day at his new elementary school. Hint: it doesn't go great. Kids make fun of him for being Chinese, his teacher can't pronounce his name properly, and a kid named Timmy says in class that Chinese people eat dogs.
- Then there's Suzy Nakamura, the only other Asian person in the class… and school. Everyone makes up a rumor about how Jin and Suzy are arranged to be married on her 13th birthday though, so these two completely avoid each other.
- Jin's a loner at school, especially during lunch. Unless, of course, you count the guys who make fun of him.
- There is this one kid, a blonde white boy, who tries to defend him, but not much comes of it.
- Then there's this other kid called Peter Grabinsky, Jin's first friend.
- Peter's both a bully and a misfit, so their friendship isn't exactly stellar; plus Peter leaves the school and doesn't return.
- Then Wei-Chen arrives. He's this earnest kid from Taiwan (not China) who tries to become Jin's friend.
- Jin, however, just isn't into Wei-Chen. In fact, Wei-Chen just makes Jin want to beat him up.
- Why? Wei-Chen looks (and sounds) like your stereotypical Chinese geek. High-water waist pants, glasses, Pee-Wee Herman hair, bad fashion sense, and terrible English.
- But Wei-Chen's got a toy robot that changes into a monkey. And that makes all the difference. Jin finally has a friend.
Danny & Chin-Kee
- The chapter opens with a drawing that comes out of nowhere: a buck-toothed, braided ponytail-ed, Chinese guy with slanted eyes and a title that says "Everyone Ruvs Chin-Kee." If you're feeling confused, hang on because it's about to get even more confusing.
- Danny—this white, teenaged boy—is at home studying chemistry with his friend/crush Melanie, a pretty, blonde, white girl.
- He's just about to tell Melanie about his feelings for her when his mom announces that—alarm bells—his cousin Chin-Kee has just arrived.
- Chin-Kee enters and it's like a Chinese stereotype fiesta. Chin-Kee has buckteeth, a traditional single long braid down his back, an old school Chinese outfit straight out of the 1900s, and a Chinese accent that would make you cringe.
- He says all the wrong things—and we do mean all. He immediately hits on Melanie by commenting on her chest and saying that she ought to bear his children.
- Not, as you can see, a great houseguest. Or even a great cousin.
- Then Danny's mom announces that Chin-Kee will be going to school with Danny the next day. Go ahead and groan. We feel for Danny too.
The Monkey King
- Back to the Monkey King and his craziness.
- It's the morning after the dinner party and the Monkey King has just commanded all his monkey subjects to wear shoes and not disturb him. Someone's a little grumpy…
- The Monkey King stays in his super-deep Batcave and studies kung-fu even more.
- After forty days, he masters four major skills or "disciplines of invulnerability": the invulnerability to fire, cold, drowning, and wounds.
- Forty more days pass and he masters another set of skills, the "four major disciplines of bodily form": giant form, miniature form, hair-into-clones, and shape shift.
- What are these skills? They're pretty much exactly what they sound like. The Monkey King can get bigger and smaller (like Alice in Wonderland, only without the pills); he can also turn his loose hair into clones of himself and change the shape of his body. Pretty neat, huh?
- When the Monkey King finally emerges from his cave, he receives a notice from the Dragon King of the Eastern Sea that he's received the death sentence for "trespassing upon Heaven." If that sounds like trouble's coming to you, you're absolutely right.
- The Monkey King isn't worried, though. In fact, he's not even the Monkey King anymore since becoming a master of all those kung-fu disciplines. He renames himself the Great Sage, Equal of Heaven. A small ego is definitely not one of his problems.
- The Monkey King strides off to make himself known to all those beings in Heaven.
- But before he does that, he makes a pit stop at the Dragon King's digs to deal with that little matter of his execution.
- When he gets to the Dragon King's place, he actually does get his head chopped off, but that doesn't matter because the Monkey King is no longer just a simple Monkey King—he's the Great Sage, Equal of Heaven, which basically means he's the ultimate bad-ass.
- To point that out to the Dragon King, the Monkey King stomps on him. Now who's boss?
- The Dragon King isn't dead of course (all these guys are pretty much immortal), but he is humbled. In fact, he sees the Monkey King off and gives him a magic cudgel.
- Then the Monkey King visits Lao-Tzu, the patron of immortality.
- Then Yama, caretaker of the Underworld.
- Then the Jade Emperor, ruler of the Celestials.
- And he wreaks some serious havoc.
- Which is why all the gods, goddesses, etc. band together and complain about the Monkey King to the emissaries of Tze-Yo-Tzuh. Who's that? You and the Monkey King are about to find out.
- While the Monkey King is beating up some random guy, this towering, long-white-haired dude with a huge walking stick shows up and asks Little Monkey where his anger comes from.
- Being called Little Monkey doesn't go over too well with the Monkey King, which means Monkey's about to fight (again).
- But Tze-Yo-Tzuh is different. He's the creator of all being and things; he's the ruler of the universe. In other words, think God/Jesus, only Chinese and way into cryptic sayings.
- He tells Monkey that Monkey can never escape him, but Monkey's like, sure I can.
- So off Monkey goes on his cloud-steed to prove Tze-Yo-Tzuh wrong.
- Monkey flies everywhere until he reaches the end of world, where he sees five golden pillars.
- Like a total punk, Monkey carves his name onto one of the golden pillars. Then he pees on it. Class act, that Monkey, class act.
- Then he flies back to Tze-Yo-Tzuh and brags about what he's done.
- Only Tze-Yo-Tzuh has something up his sleeve. Literally, as in his hand and fingers, one of which has Monkey's name carved on it and pee at the base of it.
- Uh-oh. Yep—Monkey didn't really pee on a golden pillar; he peed on Tze-Yo-Tzuh's finger which was disguised as a golden pillar. The guy really is everywhere.
- But Tze-Yo-Tzuh's a decent man/creator of the universe. He calmly tells Monkey that he created Monkey and so he asks Monkey to please stop his violent rampage.
- Monkey almost seems to be listening. And then he decides to do the worst thing possible: he challenges Tze-Yo-Tzuh anyway.
- Tze-Yo-Tzuh just sighs and buries Monkey under a pile of heavy rocks, where Monkey stays for five hundred years.
- You know how someone you never noticed before can kind of just sneak up on you? That's what happens to Jin when he finally notices Amelia Harris in the 7th grade.
- And once he does, he can't get her out of his mind—he can't even hold his books right when he sees her.
- One day he decides to tell Wei-Chen about his mad crush. Wei-Chen starts to tease him about the crush until Jin shuts him up by pointing out that he's acting like an "F.O.B." (fresh off the boat).
- Weirdly enough, two weeks later, Wei-Chen starts going out with Suzy Nakamura.
- Switch scenes: we're now in a science class and the instructor, Mr. Graham, is asking for two student volunteers to look after these live animals who have been loaned to the class.
- Amelia volunteers, so Wei-Chen tries to get Jin to volunteer too.
- Jin's not really down for the idea, but Wei-Chen's so pushy that he raises his own hand just to volunteer on Jin's behalf.
- But Mr. Graham thinks Wei-Chen's volunteering himself, so Wei-Chen finally submits to Mr. Graham and becomes a volunteer.
- Meanwhile, Wei-Chen kind of thinks Jin's acting like a turtle hiding in its shell.
- Out in the schoolyard, Jin's having one of those neurotic moments. He's kvetching to Wei-Chen and Suzy about Amelia and whether or not she might have a thing for Greg, that popular blonde, curly-haired guy who once came to Jin's defense.
- Wei-Chen and Suzy just tease him for being both paranoid and cowardly—oh, and for being a complete klutz around Amelia whenever he's near her.
- Jin doesn't appreciate their humor. Obviously.
- But then Timmy (that jerk who once called Jin and Chinese people in general dog eaters) and another white guy walk by and more or less call the three Asian kids "chink," "nippy," and "gook."
- That shuts all three of them up.
- While Jin is walking home, he starts thinking about Amelia (again); then his mind switches to Amelia and Greg, finally focusing on just Greg.
- By the time he gets to his house, he's fixated on the one thing he thinks makes Greg cool: his curly blonde hair.
- The next day, Jin shows up at school and guess what—he's got a new hairdo. It's basically Greg's hairstyle, but black.
- Wei-Chen and Suzy are totally confused, but Suzy tells Wei-Chen to be nice since Jin's his best friend.
- The scene shifts again to the science classroom: Wei-Chen and Amelia are taking care of the animals for Mr. Graham.
- Wei-Chen goes hunting in the closet for some mice and Amelia goes to help him. Unfortunately, she closes the door on both of them and locks them into the closet accidentally.
- Time passes and Amelia's frustrated, but Wei-Chen tells her that he's supposed to meet Jin after school, so he thinks that Jin will figure out where they are and get them out.
- That gives Amelia the opportunity to ask about Jin, which gives Wei-Chen the opportunity to pump Jin up in Amelia's eyes.
- But it's not just that—Wei-Chen is actually really heartfelt about how thankful he is for Jin. He tells Amelia about how Jin, for a long time, was his only friend and how Jin helped him adjust to American culture when he first arrived in town.
- Finally Amelia asks Wei-Chen the most important question: Does Jin like her? To which Wei-Chen tells her to ask him herself.
- All the while, Jin is outside waiting for Wei-Chen. And just like Wei-Chen says, Jin figures out where Wei-Chen is and convinces the janitor to open the biology room in exchange for an hour of trash duty and some orange freeze from the cafeteria.
- When Jin sees Wei-Chen and Amelia in the closet, things become a blur for him.
- He does remember, however, Wei-Chen nudging him to seize the opportunity, so Jin manages to ask Amelia out on a date.
- Amelia says yes.
- And that's all Jin can think of at night, in bed.
Danny & Chin-Kee
- We're back at Oliphant High with Danny and Chin-Kee.
- The two of them are late to class, probably because Danny doesn't want anyone to see Chin-Kee with him.
- In class (specifically, American Government), the teacher asks the class a question and, of course, Chin-Kee knows and volunteers the answer, which totally embarrasses Danny.
- The same thing happens in every class Danny's in, regardless of the content. Chin-Kee knows everything and he isn't afraid to show it—loudly. Even in Spanish.
- At lunchtime Chin-Kee breaks out some seriously gross stuff for food, like fried cat gizzards (or, in Chin-Kee's Chinglish, "flied cat gizzards wiff noodle"). Danny really doesn't want to be around Chin-Kee.
- Then one of the jocks, Steve, stops by and congratulates Danny on making the varsity basketball team.
- They joke around a little in the way that jocks do until Steve notices Chin-Kee.
- Danny tries to distract Steve from talking to Chin-Kee, but that only gives Chin-Kee the chance to do something really mean: he takes Steve's can of Coke and pees in it before putting the can back on the table.
- Why? It's a joke. One that, by the way, results in Steve barfing up his Coke, though he has no idea about what Chin-Kee has done.
- After class Danny has to go to detention because of how tardy he was, so Chin-Kee goes off to find some "Amellican girl to bind feet and bear Chin-Kee's children."
- Are you thinking whatever? So is Danny.
- While Danny walks toward detention, he sees a couple of white students laugh and make a slanted-eye face, which kind of makes him feel sucky.
- Then he runs into Melanie, so he tries to apologize for Chin-Kee's behavior toward her.
- Melanie's pretty cool about the whole thing, but when he asks her out on a date, she lets him know that she just thinks of him as a good friend. Ouch.
- Danny, of course, thinks it's all Chin-Kee's fault and tries to convince Melanie that he's not like Chin-Kee at all.
- But Melanie tells him that's not it.
- Although… she does tell him that his teeth buck out a little. So she gives him her uncle's business card (he's an orthodontist)—you know, because that's what a friend would do.
- Danny's depressed now. Sitting in the gym. Alone.
- Then Steve walks up and asks if he's okay. (Steve's not a bad guy.)
- They start talking and Danny reveals that for the last three years he's transferred to three different high schools, because every year Chin-Kee visits him and ruins his social life at school.
- Steve tries to convince him that Oliphant High is different, that people aren't that hateful here.
- Then he offers to buy Danny a Coke, which ends up triggering Danny. He asks (kind of defensively) "What, so I can pee in it?" which makes alarm bells go off in Steve's head. So that's what happened to his Coke earlier.
- Steve ends up barfing again into a trashcan while Danny walks off.
- High school. Sigh.
The Monkey King
- We return to the Monkey King, only this time the story doesn't pick up with Monkey—it begins with an introduction to the four monks who, in ancient times, actually became legends.
- The fourth one, Wong Lai-Tsao, is the important one—at least for Monkey's story.
- Unlike the other monks, Wong Lai-Tsao isn't exactly special. He can't really meditate, fast, or preach.
- But he is generous, and amazingly so. Every morning he picks fruit from an orchard and then shares the food with the homeless on the edge of town, and every afternoon he tends to their wounds.
- Wong Lai-Tsao does this even though he gets a ton of abuse from these people.
- One day one of the vagrants asks him why he does what he does in a really rude way.
- Wong Lai-Tsao, totally calm and unfazed, just tells the vagrants that he's just like them, not worthy of anymore love, but Tze-Yo-Tzuh finds it in his heart to love him anyway, so how could he not respond in the same way?
- Now that is a good answer, according to the vagrant.
- Then—pow—the vagrants disappear and in their place stand three emissaries of Tze-Yo-Tzuh.
- It turns out that Tze-Yo-Tzuh was testing Wong Lai-Tsao to see if he was right for a mission, and indeed he is.
- The mission is this: Wong Lai-Tsao has to deliver three packages to the west with a star to guide him. (By star, we mean the celestial kind, not the Miley Cyrus kind.)
- The journey will be dangerous, full of temptations of the flesh and monsters who are into eating monks, but Wong Lai-Tsao accepts the mission anyway. He's Tze-Yo-Tzuh's guy, you see.
- In addition, Wong Lai-Tsao will get three disciples to travel with him. The first one is a monkey god… you know where this is going right?
- So Wong Lai-Tsao starts his mission and travels for forty days before he happens upon the Monkey King trapped under the rocks.
- Wong Lai-Tsao begs the Monkey King to free himself from the rocks so that he can give Wong Lai-Tsao a hand with those packages he's been carrying (you try carrying three big packages for forty days straight… it's not like Wong Lai-Tsao's got a FedEx van).
- Monkey still has a pretty big chip on his shoulder, so he yells at Wong Lai-Tsao for talking to him without addressing Monkey's supreme status.
- Wong Lai-Tsao, as unflappable as ever, tells Monkey that he's supposed to be Wong Lai-Tsao's disciple, so he should stop being a fool and get free.
- Of course Monkey's practically exploding with anger because Wong Lai-Tsao hasn't even acknowledged the fact that Monkey is trapped under a mountain of really heavy rocks.
- But Wong Lai-Tsao's got an answer for that: he tells Monkey that Monkey's not in his true form and that returning to his true form will free him.
- That doesn't help Monkey because, as Monkey points out, a curse on the mountain prevents him from practicing his kung-fu.
- But Wong Lai-Tsao has an answer for that too: he says that returning to one's true form doesn't take kung-fu, it frees up his kung-fu.
- If you're like what? then you're not alone—Monkey's kind of in the same spot. In fact, he doesn't know how to reply to that.
- Monkey then points out that there are demons behind the monk.
- Wong Lai-Tsao says he knows, which is why he hopes Monkey will help him out soon.
- Monkey's okay with just chilling under the rock and letting the demons eat Wong Lai-Tsao.
- Wong Lai-Tsao gives Monkey a final warning, that he's Monkey's last chance at freedom, and then a demon spears Wong Lai-Tsao.
- He kind of sputters to Monkey that finding one's true identity within Tze-Yo-Tzuh's will is really the highest of all freedoms.
- Does that sound like a bunch of ridiculousness to you? It does to Monkey, which is why he snarkily asks if Wong Lai-Tsao's true identity is to be the demons' supper.
- Even though Wong Lai-Tsao's about to be roasted over a fire and eaten, he manages to respond with a pretty snarky comment himself: Is Monkey's true identity to be a prisoner under a rock for the rest of eternity?
- That kind of shuts Monkey up.
- After he sees that the demons really are about to roast Wong Lai-Tsao, Monkey finally can't take it anymore and breaks out of the rocks to save Wong Lai-Tsao.
- He beats up the demons and even farts in one of the demons' faces.
- After he's done with them, he frees Wong Lai-Tsao, calls him master (yep, Monkey's definitely changed), and offers to fly him to the nearest town.
- But Wong Lai-Tsao doesn't want to take any shortcuts, although he does ask Monkey to carry the packages and—more importantly—take off his shoes. Shoes won't be necessary on this journey, he tells Monkey.
- So Monkey leaves with Wong Lai-Tsao as his faithful servant until the end.
- Back to Jin, who's about to go on his date with Amelia.
- So he's trying to get Wei-Chen to do him a solid and cover for him—you know, because Jin's parents wouldn't be down with him going on a date.
- Why? Jin explains with a story about why his mother chose to marry his father.
- Basically, his dad had the thickest glasses of all the grad students, which—to her—meant that he studied the most and had a strong work ethic. And of course all of that meant that one day he would probably have a high salary.
- Moral of her story (according to her)? If Jin focuses on his studies, he "can have any girl [he] want[s]."
- Or, in other words, Jin can't date until he gets beyond a master's degree.
- But Wei-Chen's not okay with the whole idea. He's not into lying.
- He finally comes around though, which makes Jin very happy.
- The scene shifts to Jin and Amelia on their date.
- Or actually to Jin biking with Amelia on his handlebars. Way to save the planet, Jin.
- Jin, the narrator, thinks biking with Amelia on the bars is kind of bunk, by the way. How do we know? He tells a story of his cousin Charlie (Jin's into storytelling if you can't tell by now), who told him not to bother dating before getting a driver's license. Jin used to think Charlie was just bitter because of his lack of a social life, but now, after biking Amelia up a hill, Jin isn't so sure.
- But he's not letting Amelia see him sweat.
- Once they get to the movie theater, everything's going great, and Amelia's making all sorts of moves to show that she likes Jin, so Jin's about to go one step further and put his arm around her.
- That is until he remembers how gross his pits must be from all the sweat.
- So he hightails it to the bathroom, suds up his pits with that icky old school powdered soap bathrooms used to have, and gets back to Amelia.
- Then he does it—the whole yawn-and-stretch move—and it works.
- Happiness. That is, until they get out of the theater and he notices all these soapsuds on Amelia's shoulder, which of course means that Jin's pits have visible suds all over them.
- But he goes with Amelia to the ice cream shop afterward even though he's walking like a mummy.
- Neither of them see Greg, that popular blonde dude, walking out of the theater behind them with a girl on his arm. But he sees them.
- Anyway, the rest of the date goes well and Amelia seems cool with Jin, even though Jin can't stop feeling paranoid about his pits.
- At school the next day, Jin tells Wei-Chen about his pits, so Wei-Chen offers to find out for Jin whether or not Amelia noticed Jin's pits. What a friend, right?
- In fact, Wei-Chen is awesome because not only did he end up talking to Jin's mother for two hours while Jin was on his date, but Wei-Chen also promised Jin's mom that he'd go shopping with her on the weekend.
- Jin definitely owes Wei-Chen.
- In class, Wei-Chen manages to get Amelia's take on the date (all good) and lets Jin know.
- That leads to some serious romanticizing—Jin can't help imagining Amelia and him married and having a baby. Yep. It's not just girls who have that fantasy.
- At lunchtime, Jin goes to buy the janitor his orange freeze (Jin's good about clearing his debts) when Greg stops him.
- Greg asks Jin not to go out with Amelia again. Why? His excuse is that he's just looking out for Amelia's best interests and he doesn't think Jin's the right kind of guy Amelia should be with. Especially since they're almost in high school and what group you're in matters.
- Whatever, right?
- Well, no—you see, even though on the inside all Jin wants to do is beat Greg up, when Jin actually sees Amelia and Greg talking in the hallway, he can't get up the guts to do anything but walk away from Amelia.
- Which totally puzzles Amelia.
- So what does Jin do next?
- Kiss Suzy Nakamura of course.
- If you want to do a double-take, go right ahead. It's a doozy of a plot twist, right?
- But there is more to it than that. It's not like Jin just goes up to her and lands a hot one on her.
- He sees Suzy and she's sad because Timmy called her a chink. Pretty sucky, right?
- What's worse, Suzy was already depressed because she found out that, at another Japanese American girl's birthday party (a girl who used to be her best friend), Suzy was only invited because their mothers are friends, not because the girl really wanted to invite Suzy.
- Anyway, Jin hears Suzy's story, sees Suzy's tears, and can't help but feel something, so that's when he kisses her.
- Don't think Suzy's mild-mannered and just takes it though—nope, she punches Jin and walks off.
- But that's not who Jin really needs answer to.
- Remember how Wei-Chen is dating Suzy? Guess who shows up at Jin's door.
- Wei-Chen doesn't get why Jin kissed Suzy, and he goes so far as to say that he thinks Jin and him are like brothers to each other.
- And that sets Jin off. He says they're nothing alike and that—even though he doesn't even like Suzy—he thinks maybe Wei-Chen isn't good enough for Suzy. Sound familiar?
- Then to top it off, he says that, after all, Wei-Chen is an F.O.B.
- Are you thinking of punching Jin? Don't worry—Wei-Chen does it for you.
- He walks off and Jin is left with two bruised cheeks.
- He falls asleep convincing himself that he told Wei-Chen the truth.
- Then he dreams about the little old lady herbalist from Chinatown.
- She asks him what he would like to become, which prompts him to imagine becoming white.
- Jin wakes up from the dream. His head's hurting, but his bruises are gone.
- In fact, his whole face is gone. He looks in the mirror and sees that he's now a white guy.
- Instead of freaking out about it though, Jin decides that "a new face deserve[s] a new name."
- And that's how Danny is born.
Danny & Chin-Kee
- If you think Chin-Kee was cringe-worthy before, keep reading…
- We're now at the library, and Danny's walking in.
- First he notices some guys complaining about needing to get checked for SARS. (Check out the "Shout-Outs" section if you need a refresher on what SARS was all about.)
- Then he hears some really bad singing…
- It's Chin-Kee, on top of a library table singing—and scaring everyone with—"She Bangs" by Ricky Martin (via William Hung—see the "Shout-Outs" section if you have no clue who Hung is).
- Danny drags Chin-Kee out of the library and starts to beat him up.
- Chin-Kee warns him that he doesn't know what he's getting into, but Danny keeps hitting him anyway.
- All of a sudden, Chin-Kee rises up and starts to do some serious kung-fu on Danny.
- He beats Danny up pretty good, but Danny gets the last punch in and knocks Chin-Kee's head off his neck.
- That should be gruesome, but instead of blood squirting everywhere, the Monkey King's head pops up where Chin-Kee's head should have been.
- Danny's confused. (If you are too, we don't blame you.)
- Turns out, Chin-Kee was always the Monkey King and the Monkey King was always Chin-Kee.
- Now that the Monkey King shows himself to Danny, he changes Danny back to his true form: Jin.
- The Monkey King introduces himself as an emissary of Tze-Yo-Tzuh (he got that position after he finished his journey with the monk).
- Now for the shocker: he adds that Wei-Chen is actually his son. Oh how the world turns.
- Here's the backstory on Monkey and Wei-Chen:
- Once Monkey becomes an emissary for Tze-Yo-Tzuh, he has all his wives and children brought to him. (Think polygamy to the 10th power—he is a monkey after all.)
- His oldest son—Wei-Chen—decides to follow in his footsteps and become an emissary too.
- But in order to become an emissary, Wei-Chen has to pass a test of virtue.
- So for his test, Wei-Chen is sent to live on Earth for forty years with humans but stay free of human vice.
- You know where this is going because you already know where Wei-Chen's been. No way can he stay clear of human vices.
- Although he actually does pretty well. That is, until he has to lie to Jin's mother about Jin's date with Amelia.
- Yep—you knew that was coming back too, right?
- Wei-Chen tells Monkey about what he did, and Monkey freaks out. After all, he is a dad.
- Now for the kicker: Wei-Chen confirms with Monkey that Tze-Yo-Tzuh thinks humans are his coolest creation, even better than his emissaries, and then he tells Monkey that Tze-Yo-Tzuh's a fool. Blasphemy.
- Not only that, but he tells Monkey that he thinks humans suck monkey butt. Okay, no he doesn't really say those exact words, but you follow.
- So he concludes that he'll live out the rest of his days on Earth purely for his own pleasure. Forget virtue—where's the fun in that?
- Monkey begs him not to do that and tells him how Wei-Chen will need to face Tze-Yo-Tzuh one day, but Wei-Chen doesn't care—he says anything is better than being a slave to humans.
- So that's how Wei-Chen and Monkey's story goes.
- Monkey tells Jin that Wei-Chen no longer lets him visit, which is why Monkey visits Jin instead.
- Jin thinks it's because Monkey wants to punish him for Wei-Chen's failure, but Monkey insists that's not it.
- He says he visits Jin because he wants to become Jin's guide, to remind Jin of what's right and wrong.
- And then we zoom in on a close-up of Chin-Kee's head, which popped off after Jin hit him.
- Monkey's about to leave, but then Jin stops him and asks him about what he should do next.
- Monkey says something really mysterious—that basically he wishes he appreciated his monkey self a lot sooner.
- Then he zooms off on a cloud.
- A business card floats down from the sky though; it gives an address to a Chinese restaurant.
- Jin goes home and asks his father for the keys to the car.
- His father asks where Chin-Kee is, and Jin tells him Chin-Kee left for home early.
- Jin leaves while his dad tells Jin's mother that she better call her sister and tell her that Chin-Kee's coming home early. Jin's mother tells him that she thought Chin-Kee was his sister's son. That Monkey—such a crafty little guy.
- So Jin goes to the 490 Bakery Cafe (the restaurant on the card) and sits there, waiting.
- He does that night after night for a month, until one night, Wei-Chen rolls up in a souped-up sports car with a thumping bass coming out the stereo system.
- Jin goes out to talk to Wei-Chen, who looks like a total gangster with a mean streak.
- Jin lets him know that he's talked to Wei-Chen's dad, which reminds Wei-Chen of his monkey roots.
- So Wei-Chen goes into the restaurant and—over some boba milk tea—he and Jin talk.
- And Jin apologizes.
- Wei-Chen considers the apology behind his shades (yes, he's wearing sunglasses at night), over his milk tea and a cigarette. Then he tells Jin that the milk tea sucks and criticizes it like he's Anthony Bourdain.
- And then? The bromance returns.
- Wei-Chen invites Jin to a place with the best boba milk tea. That's boy-speak for we're cool again.
- Jin accepts and they laugh.
- Go ahead and smile—we did.